Colombia is here. I predicted that my predictions would be proven wrong once I got here, and yes they have been. Everything is much different than I expected. That big huge journey that sat in front of my eyes for so long has finally appeared. Colombia is hot, but cool at times. It’s cool when I sit in front of my fan or when I enter that one room in the building that’s air conditioned. It’s cool when there’s brisa. I was made for Colombia’s weather. Each day my grandmother tells me “lleva una sombra, te vas a poner pecosa” in which I reply “me gusta ser pecosa, me gusta el sol”. I like my skin freckled. I like the sun. I don’t like umbrellas.
When I tell people I live in the state that had the “tormenta” or snow storm, their jaws drop. Although I wasn’t there for it, I didn’t really think twice about it. Snow is something I am so used to. For northern Colombians, snow is something of their dreams, or out of a movie. They don’t know for sure that it exists because they’ve never seen it, felt it, tasted it. My sister said “and Colombia, without water” when I showed her the pictures my home friends sent of the snow. Funny how the world works sometimes.
I feel a little enclosed. For safety reasons, we are currently limited to the coast in our travels. Actually, were really not supposed to leave the barranquilla area.
I live in sabana grande. I like this big sheet that I live in. The people are super friendly. Most people stare, we are the only gringos in the town. Everyone we talk to is “a la orden” or “at our service”. People help each other out here.
I have a lot of spanish teachers. Mostly my family, they teach me the most. Next to them would be my actual spanish teacher, Jaime. Spanish is coming back to my quickly, but not quick enough. I long to be at the level I was at 4 years ago. I hope I can regain that level of fluency. I hope my brain is still young enough.
I have been here 2 weeks now. I have a feeling the next two years of my life will go by very fast.
Things are becoming quite sparse. Each day I wake up and live, I notice how things are lessening. I give things away. Things I haven’t touched in weeks, months, years. I throw stuff away, stuff I didn’t even know existed to my name. I use stuff up, purposely to be able to eliminate it from my life. I move things into a box of things that are going with me, making my purse and bedroom more sparse. I pack things away into boxes, causing sparsity. I file things away and write them in different, more compact places, eliminating papers in my possession. My list of things to do before January 12th gets shorter, as I cross things off of it. My homemade countdown made with post its up on my bedroom wall is diminishing. Sparseness everywhere. Excitement in my heart and soul.
I have started to say my final goodbyes to people. Customers, friends, family. People I know I won’t see in the next two weeks.
I feel like I have been floating through life the past month, with something so big right in front of me all set up and ready to play out. Leaving the life I have made for myself as a young adult here in the states, ready to unravel my next journey that will influence my fate & destination. The weeks leading up to the Peace Corps have caused me to feel the most relaxed state of being yet the most anxious state of being I’ve ever felt. Nothing much on my plate, just preparing to leave in two weeks.
Meeting Lindsay in Chicago, and Monica and Ben in New York in the past month has greatly eased my nervousness. The comfort I felt around them, within 2 minutes of meeting all three of them was indescribable. Shannon, my childhood friend said “doesn’t it feel great when you meet someone and you feel like you’ve known them forever” in regards to one of my PC friends, and I said “Yes, it certainly does feel great”. I have a great feeling about this.
Since I’ve got this page up at the moment. I leave in 24 days. Let’s say three weeks. Am I ready? In my head, yes. The last week in the states will probably be jam packed with me running around trying to find the funds to gather last minute things I’ve forgotten to buy. Half of me says “oh well, you’ll live even if you forget 1/4 of your planned belongings” and the other half says “be pro-active this time, don’t be the only ass who doesn’t have what they need”. We will see, guarantee I will be calling my dad up about every three hours once I’m in country to say “dad, can u check if i left my _____ at home”. Also guarantee that I will live without blank.
3.5 weeks and this blog goes public. : )
I couldn’t help them, and I’ve never been one to stifle them. It was after I departed with my friends after a very memorable night. I parted ways with today with my friends and in that moment, everything felt so real. Time caught up with me and I had this moment of ultimate reality. We are 24, we have been friends for 10 years and for the next two, we will be separated by a lot of land. It wasn’t necessarily tears of sadness, it was mostly thankful tears. I couldn’t believe how lucky I am to have such “stick by my side” friends. Our friendship has never wavered. Speeches, pictures, memories, everything about last night was moving & unforgettable.
Today was the first time I’ve called out of my job, in my entire life. I was drunk and sick when I woke up. I felt terrible. I knew if I couldn’t find someone to come in for me, I would have to drive to work with the fear of still being drunk. Strawberry to the rescue. My friend Kathleen (strawberry) saved me today. My coworkers amazed me today, I stopped in to apologize for my irresponsibility and I was greeted by all smiles and excitement to see me.This is when the tears started flowing again. That place is like a home to me, my adolescence and young adulthood have been shaped in that restaurant. I met my 4 of my best friends there. Customers that I will have in my life for the rest of my life. It’s become so much more than a job, it’s become a safe place.
Supplies! Surprise! Sorpresa!
I plan to make this blog public when I post my first entry in country.
My friend Bob died : ( I can’t remember if he was 90 or 100. He lived a long and prosperous life. He was a war veteran and outlived his son who was killed in a war. He was a happy soul who radiated joy. I hadn’t seen him in about a month since he moved to a retirement home. I used to see him everyday that I worked since he came in for a turnover every day, never ordered anything else just a turnover and tea. Once we were completely out of turnovers and he got pancakes, he showed no negative emotion, ever. I think he died smiling. I can’t make it to his funeral, I have to work. I miss you Bob, and your cane with a flashlight on it, too.
I am on my way to living a healthier lifestyle. I have been pushing my physical limits and watching myself become a more self controlled person. Currently running approx 3.5 miles per day at 5.5 mph.. 6 out of 7 days a week. I count the songs as they go by and when I get to ten songs, I check and then usually go another mile or so. I sometimes hate it while I’m actually running but by the next day I crave it a little.
I like making friends all over the world. Today I met some new friends in Philly, with my dad. I love my city.
I will be 10 days short of getting on a plane and heading to Miami, and then Colombia. Today I had the first little tiny bit of reality and sadness hit me. Up to this point, it’s been pure excitement and happiness that I have experienced when thinking about my upcoming journey with the Peace Corps. Today, I was already feeling eh when I started thinking about how close January is getting, and how little time I have to spend with my family before I leave. The weather had me down today and all day I kind of felt on the edge of tears. I have these kinds of days every once in awhile, the feeling would come and pass throughout the day. Negative thoughts and happenings in my friends circle, on the news, and in my family kept infiltrating my brain. While at the gym, I really got to thinking while I was running on the treadmill. I’ve been a better person at a different time in my life. I was more liked by myself, other people I know, and strangers. I would like to revert to that person. I think Colombia will be a great opportunity to re-find Mia (although I’m going to start now). I’ve found that my levels of judging and gossiping have gone up, while my levels of compassion and happiness have gone down. I would like to invert those levels.
I am nervous to make this public and allow friends and family to read it, but I will do it anyway. Soon. It feels good to write, I like my writing voice. Although I said that today I experienced some sadness while thinking about my departure, I am more excited than ever.
I took this photo of my mom 3 months ago, she had just gotten her hair done and when I pulled up to her house I didn’t recognize her. She looked so pretty. I asked her if I could take her picture, she asked why. I wanted to show my friends! She let me and she even smiled. This was the first time I had seen my mom smile sincerely in approximately 3 years. Three months really does fly.
Right now, four months sounds like an absolute eternity to me. But I try to remind myself just how fast four months goes by. I am already seeing halloween events pop up, so that means christmas is basically over. The hard part right now is waiting it out. I know that once I am on that plane to Colombia, I will look back and say OMG the past four months flew by, and now I already miss PA, where I was just a text away from my girls. I want to slow my self down, remind myself to really enjoy these last couple months and last set of holidays that I will definitely be in the states for. It’s hard though, with something so huge sitting right in front of me. I can almost taste it!
For a long long time now I have played with the oddity of a thing that we call time in my head. It’s something that lingers in my head and I can ponder for long periods of time. For example, right now I am foreshadowing me reading this first blog entry about a year into my Peace Corps service, that will be approximately a year and a half from now. I will look back on this day and think just how fast life goes by, but then I will look ahead and think WOW I still have a year before I go home. Anyway, in that moment I will have seen SO much more than I have seen today. My predictions and assumptions will be proven wrong about Barranquilla, my PC counterparts, my idea of teaching in Colombia, and the things I will experience in Colombia. We always have these preconceived notions of how something will be or turn out, turns out a lot of the time they’re wrong. It’s pretty interesting to think where those notions come from, maybe what we’ve seen on TV, or the research we’ve done on a topic. But, what’s amazing is that the brain actually forms images and clips of what we think something will be like, although it truly has no idea.